D Is For Demisexual

D Is For Demisexual

Explaining demisexuality and related identities to a society that just doesn't get us yet.

You may have never heard of demisexuality, and I wouldn't blame you. It's not a well-known sexuality, and it's not talked about as much as other sexualities might be. In fact, many of the sexualities underneath the asexual umbrella are largely not discussed and frequently misunderstood. Though I've written about demisexuality before, I want to clarify what it is and what it can mean. This is my understanding of the label, and it in no way represents what it means for all demisexuals. I use "we" in a way to mean myself and other demisexuals that have a similar understanding and expression of this identity. Something fantastic about human sexuality is that it is expressed uniquely depending on the person's personality and life experiences. It makes for a diverse scale. However, these are some of the key traits and points that I think help in understanding demisexuality as a whole.

1. "Demisexual" literally means "half sexual."

"Demi" is a prefix meaning half. For example, you may have heard of a "demigod." This alone explains some of the traits and foundation of the sexuality. Demisexual is halfway between sexual and asexual. It is, however, considered to be on the asexual scale. This may be because the sexual scale inherently excludes demisexuality. Because demisexuals are by nature not "fully sexual," they are placed under the asexual category. There's another umbrella term that I prefer, which is gray-ace or gray-a. Demisexual does not indicate a certain gender preference. One can be demiheterosexual, demihomosexual, demibisexual, etc.

2. Typically, demisexuality is characterized by a lack of primary attraction.

By "lack," I don't mean to imply that we are lacking something as humans and there's something amiss with us, more that we simply do not possess something considered "normal," but that's OK! In the current understanding of human sexual attraction, there is a primary attraction and a secondary attraction. Primary attraction is initial sexual attraction formed based on physical traits. This means you're sexually attracted to someone because you find them physically appealing. Secondary attraction is sexual attraction formed based on an emotional bond and the individual's personality. While demisexuals might find someone objectively attractive, often sexual attraction is not primarily formed. We often form sexual attraction on a secondary basis, after we have emotionally connected with the person. For more information on this, visit this cool little site.

3. Demisexuals do not automatically find sex repulsive.

Often, any disinterest in having sex just for sex is socially treated as a disgust toward sex. This just isn't accurate for many demisexuals. In fact, we have both primary and secondary sexual desire. This means that when we desire sex, it can be for emotional and physical satisfaction and also to conceive children. Demisexuals usually develop sexual desire under specific circumstances, mainly through a strong connection or emotional bond.

4. Sexual attraction can be separate from romantic attraction.

This also applies to understanding asexuality. It is important in trying to negotiate asexuality and demisexuality within a society fixated on sex. Many think that individuals under the asexual umbrella do not ever feel attracted to any human being on any level. This could be true for some people, but it's important to remember that it is rare to be 100 percent any sexual identity, asexuality and demisexuality included. Asexuals and demisexuals can certainly have crushes and be romantically attracted to others, even love someone romantically. They can want to date and, sometimes, have sex. It is simply that their sexual attraction functions differently and independently from romantic attraction. An asexual or demisexual might be perfectly happy dating for a long time, or indefinitely, without sex. To that end, that means someone can be both demisexual and demiromantic, simply demisexual, simply demiromantic, or other combinations of sexual and romantic identities.

5. This is not a choice.

Though many understand that identities like gay and lesbian are not conscious choices, sometimes this is forgotten when applied to demisexuality. Just because we might reserve sexual activity for people we know on a deep level and emotionally connect with, it does not mean we are overly-religious, arrogant or trying to make anyone feel ashamed about being more willing to have sex. It also does not mean we are contradicting feminist ideals and placing "too much" value in virginity. I simply lack sexual attraction to someone I do not emotionally connect with, and there is no motivation or benefit for me to engage in sexual activity without this bond. I will feel nothing. It does not make me a better or worse person than you. This is just how I feel. I can't help it.

6. We are not unhappy with life.

More specifically, our sexuality does not make us inherently unhappy with life and the world. Demisexuals aren't freaks moping in the corner just because they're not having sex. Demisexuals often find satisfaction in good conversation and company, hobbies and other areas of life. We don't need sex. We don't feel a hole in our souls or feel like we're missing something. It's with outside factors that we might feel that way. Sometimes, this society can pressure demisexuals into believing they are missing out on something or should want/be having sex because it's what is "normal" or expected. This can be severely damaging to self-esteem and confidence. It alienates individuals from their peers and causes a lot of frustration and pain.

7. We are not "weird."

Well, we may be weird. But not simply because we are demisexual, and not in the hurtful way this comment is meant. Though I may use what's "normal" to explain how demisexuals differ from others on the sexual scale, this is no way means we are "abnormal" or "weird." Calling demisexuals, asexuals or others on the asexual scale "weird" is to write them off as "other" and not able to be understood. Simple research into demisexuality and reading explanations written by someone part of that identity (like this article!) can lead to understanding if the person is willing enough. It is unproductive to simply give up and call us "weird." Just because you might not get it, that does not mean there is something wrong with that person. Perhaps try asking about what you don't comprehend, as long as the individual wants to be asked and it is a respectful question.

8. Don't blindly say you understand.

Going off of the above point, it's also problematic to just say you understand without really absorbing what demisexuality means, particularly in a romantic context. Agreeing to date someone who's demisexual and claiming to be OK with it without knowing what it actually entails can be damaging for everyone involved. Specifically, the demisexual individual can begin to believe they are accepted when in fact, the other person is not OK with not having sex until the demisexual has established a strong emotional bond—or not OK with the fact that the demisexual might need things to move slowly. This can lead to messy breakups and hurt feelings. It's best to look into demisexuality and what it can mean to date a demisexual and then decide whether you would like to pursue the person. Listening is imperative.

9. Patience is a virtue.

Personally, and possibly for other demisexuals, my emotions regarding sexual activity, attraction and dating are fragile and slower to develop. This can make some demisexuals feel as though they will never find someone to be with because our sexuality often requires getting to know the person really well before knowing if we want to have sex. With the nature of most modern relationships, a lot of people are not willing to wait around to see if someone is attracted to them sexually or even romantically. They want answers quickly. And that's understandable, but a reason why demisexuals and asexuals might feel isolated from other people in respect to romantic relationships and sex. My feelings, for example, are easily ruined if a relationship escalates too quickly. Many of us might need someone who is willing to be patient.

10. Sexualities don't usually function in absolutes.

Though there are certainly key indicators of a demisexuality identity, like a lack of primary attraction, not all demisexuals are the same. Not all behave or regard sex and relationships in the ways I have outlined in this list. There is difference from demisexual to demisexual, and same goes for others on the asexual scale. Asexuals are not amoebas or plants, they are humans, and they can be romantically and sexually attracted to people. It just might be extremely rare. Even if they don't experience those attractions, it is not helpful to equate them to non-human entities. Humans aren't defined as human only because of an existence of sexual and romantic attraction. Demisexuals are not weirdos or celibate, and they can develop sexual and romantic attraction at different rates or different frequencies. What qualifies as a "strong emotional bond" varies person to person. People can have instances where they act outside of their sexual identity or have "exceptions." Behavior does not define sexuality, and sexual identities do not restrict the person to a certain set of behaviors. It's all about what label the person feels most comfortable using. It should never be about how "well" they perform the textbook definition of their sexuality.

Cover Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b4/S%C3%ADmbolo_Demisexual_Mujer.png

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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.

Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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#MeToo Made Me Stronger, And It Can For You Too

I’ve found a lot of power in sharing my own #MeToo story. Now I’m working to help others share theirs.

The movement sparked from the #MeToo campaign is creating a dialogue long overdue. Sexual assault has been around since the beginning of time, like all other abuses of the physical form. People are inherently vulnerable -- but I think that’s one of our greatest strengths. Sharing my own #MeToo story has helped me take control of a moment that was out of my control.

#MeToo Stats

According to Rainn.com, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. That’s astonishing and incredibly disturbing. Younger people are at the highest risk, with nearly 70% of victims under age 30. Women 18-34 bear 54% of that burden.

More than 1.7 million people from 85 countries tweeted #MeToo last October. Facebook counted more than 12 million posts, comments, and reactions from 4.7 million users in just the first 24 hours. 45% of Facebook users in the U.S. had friends who posted “Me Too”.

Exposing Experiences

At 22 years old, I’m all too familiar with the ever-present threat of sexual violence. When the #MeToo movement blossomed, I started evaluating my own experiences. I was 16 years old, reading a book at the beach when an overweight, intoxicated man in his 60’s decided to focus in on me.

I ignored him like someone would ignore a wasp in the hopes it will go away. When he lingered, I politely asked him to leave. But like the wasp would ignore those words, he chose to sting anyway -- in broad daylight with dozens of people watching -- leaving that 16-year-old crying in her car, trying to call any friend that would listen.

That’s the moment I think about when I think about #MeToo because I felt completely defenseless. But it’s not the only story. There was the frat boy who assertively assumed I would be into unprotected sex because I danced with him for a few minutes. I shut him down without hesitation, but he followed me the remainder of the night -- maybe thinking he could get me to change my mind.

Add that to regular catcalls, drivers who slow down in traffic to stare at you, or the disgusting creep at nightclubs who takes advantage of close quarters to lean his groin against you and your friends. When I told that one to back off, he stuck his tongue out at me, thinking it was appropriate to mimic cunnilingus. Just a few weeks ago, a group of strangers pulled at my shirt as I walked past them at a bar. I could go down the rabbit hole here, but as my friends and I started swapping these stories, I realized the power we hold in our ability to tell them.

It’s terrifying to feel like you’re not in control of your circumstances. You feel very alone. But the #MeToo movement showed the world we’re not. Understanding how many men and women have suffered similar events brings strength to our vulnerability, and gives a visual meaning to the idea of strength in numbers. If you’re a survivor, you can anonymously share your story here .

The Power of Vulnerability

The vulnerability that makes people targets is the same vulnerability that allows us to make a significant change. One courageous tweet enabled millions of others to be courageous, too. Vulnerability is bringing down Hollywood kingpins like Cosby and Weinstein.

It’s bringing down the colleague that makes inappropriate jokes, the person who goes too far at a party, the old man hanging out at a women’s clothing store. It’s helping to shift a toxic culture we’ve accepted for far too long. So to the aggressors who have preyed on vulnerability, I regret to inform you the hunter has become the hunted. Strength grows from weakness, and now your time is up.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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